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plunker
01-30-2018, 05:45 AM
Just wondering. In the early 70s a bassist Jaco Pastorius inroduced a fretless bass. Any thoughts on a fretless uke. ( I had an oppotunity to play with Jaco once)

Down Up Dick
01-30-2018, 05:52 AM
Just wondering. In the early 70s a bassist Jaco Pastorius inroduced a fretless bass. Any thoughts on a fretless uke. ( I had an oppotunity to play with Jaco once)

There’s an old thread about fretless ukes, but you’ll have to find it. Check “Search Thread” above right. :old:

Jim Hanks
01-30-2018, 06:37 AM
There are fretless bass ukes in production now. Of course they are generally played one note at a time. I would think chords on a fretless uke would be a nightmare.

Iggy86
01-30-2018, 07:22 AM
I guess that the short scale of the uke will make playing a pain. nevertheless, jaco built the fretless starting from a fretted one. It shouldn't be that hard to remove the frets from the uke.

Ludwig.
01-30-2018, 07:32 AM
Liam Kirby of Wunderkammer instruments once did a 5 string fretless soprano :D


https://youtu.be/A672TTITrBw

Iggy86
01-30-2018, 07:45 AM
Liam Kirby of Wunderkammer instruments once did a 5 string fretless soprano :D


https://youtu.be/A672TTITrBw

That's just amazing!

WestyShane
01-30-2018, 08:05 AM
Netlfix has a good documentary about Jacko.

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the benefit of a fretless instrument other than making it more interesting/challenging to play?

Iggy86
01-30-2018, 08:13 AM
In my hopinions there are no "benefits". It just sounds different. As a former bass player at a certain point I've wanted to buy one but I've never pulled the trigger.

Listen to pino palladino too for a great fretless sound:
https://youtu.be/TRjiMN2qJHI
or Lou Reed:
https://youtu.be/AjGF0EREpSg
or Paul Simon:
https://youtu.be/uq-gYOrU8bA

peanuts56
01-30-2018, 09:51 AM
Jaco actually converted his bass to a fretless. He did all of the work himself. I heard Jaco with his Word Of Mouth Band once back at 82-83 at Toad's Place in New Haven, Conn. He had two basses onstage. His fretless sat on a stand the whole night while he played a fretted Fender. One of the people I was with is a very accomplished Upright and Electric Bassist. I'm sure many in the audience were bass players. All night we were yelling between songs asking him to play the fretless. He grabbed it for the last encore much to our delight. When the song was finished he threw it backstage. My bass playing buddy John almost had a stroke! At the last second we saw a pair of hands backstage catch it before it hit the floor.
He was one crazy guy. His playing was just amazing. The only other bassist I've heard who was in the same class technique wise is Stanley Clarke.

plunker
01-30-2018, 12:33 PM
Netlfix has a good documentary about Jacko.

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the benefit of a fretless instrument other than making it more interesting/challenging to play?

Jacko and my brother were good friends and played together in a band for about two years. I kinda tagged along sometimes.

derbyhat
01-30-2018, 06:10 PM
Forgive my ignorance, but what is the benefit of a fretless instrument other than making it more interesting/challenging to play?

Haven’t given a lot of thought to this, since I can barely play the instrument with frets. That said, if you didn’t have frets, you’d be able to pull off some neat tricks like true glissandos. You could play semi- and quarter tones (for jazz or non-Western music). You’d have a true ability to play a blue note -https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_note).

You’d also have better control over your tunings. So if someone else in the band was off just a smidge, all you’d need to do is slide up or down a smidge, rather than fuss with tuners. Seems trivial, but it could be really important mid-song.

While we are at it, I suppose you could train yourself to from chords in different tuning methods. But that’s just crazy talk and I can’t imagine who would take the time to learn how to do that.

Lapyang
01-31-2018, 01:01 AM
Haven’t given a lot of thought to this, since I can barely play the instrument with frets. That said, if you didn’t have frets, you’d be able to pull off some neat tricks like true glissandos. You could play semi- and quarter tones (for jazz or non-Western music). You’d have a true ability to play a blue note -https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_note).

You’d also have better control over your tunings. So if someone else in the band was off just a smidge, all you’d need to do is slide up or down a smidge, rather than fuss with tuners. Seems trivial, but it could be really important mid-song.

While we are at it, I suppose you could train yourself to from chords in different tuning methods. But that’s just crazy talk and I can’t imagine who would take the time to learn how to do that.


Agree with these benefits. I play cello also, so I know how difficult it is fretless. You have to really focus while playing. Intonation has been a problem for me on a sloppy day. I initially started playing ukulele to decompress when certain cello passages became too frustrating, now I am hooked.

plunker
01-31-2018, 07:26 AM
You all got me thinking. I played trombone through Jr. High, High and 1 year in college. Same as being fretless in its own way. The positions are not marked, but you learn how to hit the just the same.

Jarmo_S
01-31-2018, 07:41 AM
I searched and here is a fretless tenor ukulele. You will get some ideas about how it sounds:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j20kktqXEV8

In less traditional playing style and adapting to eastern or arabic music also this video with an amplified ukulele:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNiWrJdAcvI

Booli
02-01-2018, 11:45 PM
A fretless uke will likely sound somewhat muted since the fleshy fingertips are acting as the 'fret' and your finger is soft (compared to actual metal frets) and will dampen the sound a bit, also you will have less sustain for the same reason, UNLESS you have very thin boney fingers.

It will be a challenge to get a typical ukulele sound with meat-sausage fingers.

Having said that, I have a lesser baritone uke that I am considering converting to fretless by pulling the frets in the same way that Jaco did, but with a little more finesse than his method.

Why? because I can. I have another baritone that will keep it's frets and not get molested.

Also, +1 to the Jaco documentary on Netflix. I am a big fan of his music, and his story is so tragic. Sadly I never got the chance to see him perform, as he was before my time and he died before I really knew who he was.

kkimura
02-02-2018, 02:41 AM
Warning, a fret-less ukulele can't be blamed for intonation issues.

jimavery
02-03-2018, 11:27 AM
Sounds good. You could play it with a bow like a violin.. oh.. hang on a minute..

sculptor
02-03-2018, 05:15 PM
Bending notes would be more natural... remember instruments in the violin family don't have frets and they quite playable.

-- Gary